Thursday, December 18, 2003

I once went to a Userland Software staff meeting at Dave Winer's house in Woodside, California.

Can that really have been just three years ago?

It was before 9/11, so there has definitely been a kairotic break in time since then.

But so much has happened at the company, too -- Brent was still there, JRobb wasn't there yet, Dave was still very hands-on...if I remember correctly, Radio wasn't yet packaged as a blogging product. We think of time moving quickly in the tech world, but sometimes we forget that it moves quickly for people, too.

As a user, I'm happy to see the new management team in place.

4:03:02 PM    comment []

Halley: "Older men are in the meat market again and if they don't look good -- it's going to be tough on them."

3:25:10 PM    comment []

Elizabeth Edwards says ABC (Anybody But Carolina) trolls and "other undesirables" ruin public forums on Tar Heel basketball, forcing her and other "real die-hards" to retreat to an email list to share their passion (Elizabeth, please put me on that email list).

I don't think this rules out my idea for a UNC hoops blog, or blogs for other teams, produced by insiders with a steady flow of specific info of interest to fans. The posts on the blog would be valuable no matter what the comments say. And if comments get out of hand, they could be moderated.

One of the big NC dailies needs to put its beat reporter on this idea. Cut the writer in for a share of the ad revenue. Pimp the blog in the paper, and at the main website. And when it turns out to be a great success, you can thank me by leaving four tickets to the next ACC tourney held in G'boro at the will-call window.

9:51:20 AM    comment []

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post on presidential campaign weblogs. His three main points:

1. In terms of policy and substance, presidential campaign weblogs are not two-way. They are necessarily one-way.
2. In terms of policy and substance, presidential campaign weblogs must be essentially propagandistic.
3. In terms of organization, presidential campaign weblogs and community effectively exploit their participants.

As a debunking of the starry-eyed, campaign blog-as-Woodstock meme, good stuff. Howard Dean and Joe Trippi are trying to WIN AN ELECTION, not run an encounter group. Ditto the other candidates using or about to use the Internet to manage their campaigns. That's the whole point of setting up your own parallel media.

But I think Jeff sells short the collaborative possibilities of an Internet campaign.

The whole two-way vs. one-way communication construct is flawed to begin with -- with thousands of people in the field communicating with EACH OTHER via the blog comments and their own interlinked blogs and face-to-face, individuals get to choose their own issues and passions, and to inform each other of those things. Obviously they must choose from the candidate's menu, but they are not restricted to talking points chosen by campaign staff.

So what about Jeff's argument, that policy and substance must flow from the candidate, not from the campaign at large? True to some degree -- candidates must set their own agendas -- a finger to the electronic wind is not leadership. But ideas do bubble up. Dean has been accused of riding the anti-war theme, for example. And according to Elizabeth Edwards, her husband's campaign started talking more about a tax credit issue after it was raised on the campaign blog.

Exploiting participants -- hell, yes, but the key is that the participants aren't all told what to do, but turned loose to do what they do best. Dean has used his blog to find talent (eg, programmers for the DeanSpace project) and to get slogans ("People Powered Howard," "The Tea is in the Harbor") and tactics and tools (flyers, activities, etc.) And volunteers are running things at thousands of local meetings. They may not set policy, but they ARE substance.

As for campaign blogs being propaganda, well, yes, but it's a more sophisticated -- and honest -- message than just air-brushing out a disgraced marshall in the May Day photo. The Edwards blog, for example, has a permalink to my blog, even though I have not been a cheerleader for the campaign. Credibility means at least acknowledging critics, which Dean's blog also does. When people can talk back, and talk to each other, tight control of the message is not just impossible, it's undesirable.

9:26:28 AM    comment []

"(I)n the next six or eight presidential elections, a third-party candidate will win the presidency."

A brilliant article in the Washington Post by Everett Ehrlich (thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the pointer).

Ehrlich cites economist Ronald Coase to explain the impact of technology on political parties: "The cost of gathering information determines the size of organizations."

8:44:02 AM    comment []